|PF||Ohio State||6’7”||225 lbs|
Deshaun Thomas’s offensive game has improved so drastically to the point where he is probably the best scorer in the nation’s best conference. His greatest skill, and where he is most likely to contribute at the next level, is as a scorer on the wing. Thomas has improved his skill set immensely to the point where he is one of the most NBA-ready scorers in the draft. His combination of size, balance, and ability to finish from all over the score make him an extremely versatile scorer. Thomas, a lefty, is a devastating scorer from the left side, particularly on the block. He has a great set of moves in the post, and can bully smaller players with his refined post game. He excels turning over his right shoulder and finishing with his left in the paint, regardless of whether or not he has a good shooting angle. But although Thomas is a strong post scorer for a wing, he is most lethal facing the basket and creating offense for himself off the dribble. Thomas can start on the wing and beat a defense with penetration, not with his quickness but his ability to absorb body contact and carve out space in the lane. Thomas has a very good in between game, and can get his shot off without having a play called for him, a translatable NBA skill. In isolation, he possesses an ability to drive or absorb contact and hit a step back jumper. Thomas can create from the elbow, as a spot-up shooter or by taking a dribble and finishing in the lane. Thomas gets his points in the college game from all over the floor, without necessarily catching and shooting off of a play called for him. He gets the ball in a spot on the floor and goes to his own skill set to create a good look. Most importantly, he has a very aggressive offensive mindset and wants to get the ball and score. Thomas looks like a pro-ready NBA scorer because of his polished, versatile game.
Where Thomas struggles offensively is that he has not yet displayed a great ability to create offense for others. He is a decent passer out of double teams, or when he is on the perimeter and can break down defensive rotations, but he does not pass well off of the drive. There are also questions about his shooting range. He is a very good midrange shooter, but can he extend his range to the NBA three-point line? Thomas is not much of a factor in transition, which is surprising considering his athleticism and ability to score in the lane. If he doesn’t have the ball, he does not always look to run the floor and create from the wing or on the secondary break. Lastly, there is the question regarding whether he will be able to beat NBA wings off of the dribble, because he is a good but not a great athlete, and does not have great quickness or burst.
The majority of Thomas’ defensive strengths derive from projection rather than production. On the offensive end, he is a versatile player that can score from all over the floor, utilizing his athleticism and balance. His excellent strength, combined with his propensity to play on the wing, should allow him to guard 3s and stretch 4s at the next level. He ghas the physical tools to be an average to above average defender at multiple positions, rather than an elite defender at one position. His best defensive strength is on the glass, where Thomas competes for every single rebound and displays great toughness. Although not a particularly fundamentally sound rebounder, Thomas utilizes his upper body strength and great hands to wrestle away boards both in the lane and under the hoop. He has good instincts regarding where the ball will come off of the rim, especially when he is guarding on the perimeter and crashes the lane for the board.
There are some scouts that question Thomas’ work ethic, and the first place they point is to the defensive end. There are times where Thomas simply lacks intensity or focus on defense, getting beat on a simple cut or getting lost in a rotation. While some may call it versatility, there is a chance that Thomas can’t guard a single position well rather than guard multiple positions. For a player with his strength, he is a poor post defender who struggles to keep his man out of the paint. He guards standing straight up, and doesn’t play with much leverage or lower body strength. His lateral quickness is not good, making it very difficult for him to guard speed. Thomas doesn’t always compete on the perimeter, whether it be fighting through screens or keeping his man in front of him. There is a decent chance that he simply lacks a defensive position, if he continues to play with the same commitment that he currently displays now
Deshaun Thomas is a rare breed of scorer at the college level in that his offensive game is so polished and versatile. He is nearly equally devastating playing with his back to the basket as he is facing the rim and beating his man off the dribble. Thomas is devastating from the left block, but can also create space for a midrange jumper or create from the elbow. He excels in isolation situations, a trait that translates well to the NBA. If Thomas can continue to expand his shooting range and improve as a facilitator of offense for others, he can become a solid all-around offensive player at the next level. But there are areas of his game, particularly in transition and on defense, where Thomas seems to lack the intensity or commitment necessary to thrive in the NBA. Thomas sometimes appears disinterested in running the break, preferring to operate in the half court set, a style more suited to college than the NBA. On defense, he struggles on the perimeter because of his poor foot speed, and does not guard with the leverage and physicality to succeed in the post. These are two areas where Thomas needs to improve his intensity level, but if he does, he becomes a very interesting prospect because of his rare ability to score from all over the floor by creating his own offense.